Christmas Gifts: The Best Gift Ever

Merry Christmas, everyone!  I've invited my friend, Judy, to contribute today's blog celebrating Christmas Day.  Judy makes me laugh, cry and grow every week on her blog "Out of Control." I hope you enjoy.
The Best Gift Ever
Gifts are a big part of Christmas and, I will have to say, one that I enjoy very much.  I love receiving gifts not knowing what is inside.  The excitement and anticipation build to the point that I have been known to shake a few presents under the tree well before Christmas morning.  As much as I love to receive gifts, I think I enjoy giving gifts even more.  I have been known to go on searches that border on insanity for the perfect gift.  I have stood in early morning lines, I have done doctoral level research to find where a certain gift can be purchased and I have risked life and limb on Black Friday to fulfill the wish of someone I love.  There is just something about being able to give someone a gift that will light up their eyes and bring a smile to their face that I just cannot resist. 

Christmas Gifts: Stadium Blanket

A fleece blanket is a must-have item for a car emergency kit.  How much more fun when it shows off a favorite color, team or design? It is an easy item to purchase for all ages, and these are super easy to make yourself (even if you're not crafty) for that personal touch.  They'll use it again and again.

Here's how we have used a blanket from the trunk of our car:
  • As ground cover for an impromptu picnic in the park
  • To bundle up when the driver wants the A/C a little too cool

Christmas Gifts: Backpack

A backpack (or duffel) is the critical beginning to every go-bag.  A go-bag is essentially a portable emergency kit for one person.  At my house, we each have a go-bag containing everything we might need for a week if we had to live out of a hotel room, a friend's house, a shelter, or our car.  But this kit starts with a backpack large enough to hold what we need and small enough that each can carry our own bag (smaller bags for the kids.)  Backpacks are ideal because they leave your hands free and help you carry a load more safely than other styles of bags.

Get someone on your list started on their go-bag or emergency kit with an appropriate backpack and a list of starter supplies.  Or better yet, get their kit started with a flashlight and batteries, a can of soup with a pop top, a mini first aid kit, and a few other emergency items.

Christmas Gifts: A Generator

Talk about saving the day!  You'll be the hero for sure when a power outage comes calling, and it always will.

In the US this year we have already experienced six major power outages (February - Texas, April - Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky, July - Chicagoland, August - Carribbean, US East Coast and Atlantic Canada, September - Southern California and Arizona, and October - US East Coast).  And while 2011 isn't over yet, this year's list does not include major outages (defined as 1,000,000 person*customer hours) caused by US earthquakes, floods or wildfires.  No place is immune!  When we look at the diverse causes of the 2011 outages, we see that disasters often leave us literally "powerless".  But we are not powerless with a generator!

Now, I realize that a generator is a gift with a hefty price tag.  I also know many families that give super-deluxe gifts every year.  Wouldn't keeping your parents safe or your grand-kids warm when disaster strikes be a great pay-off for an admittedly unusual gift?

Christmas Gifts: Smoke Detectors

How much do you usually spend on a Christmas gift for someone on your list?  With that amount, you could be instrumental in saving someone's life this Christmas.  Household fires are a leading cause of home accidents in the US, and someone is injured in a residential fire every 30 minutes.  OK, so smoke detectors are not a very snazzy or festive gift, but this may be exactly what someone on your list needs.  Here are a few ideas and approaches I thought up. 

Christmas Gifts: A Pocketknife

As I was leaving to go out of town for an important training seminar, I asked a friend what he thought I should add next to my emergency kit.  Without hesitation, he asked if I had a good knife in my kit.  I bought a nice pocketknife on that trip as a souvenir, all stainless with a single locking blade and a clip.  And I have used it a million times since.

When I was young (but not too young, of course), I received my first pocketknife from my dad as a gift on a camping trip.  I promptly lost it, but only because I insisted on carrying it everywhere with me and eventually misplaced it.  I still love that purple knife, and I'm certain someone on your list could love a pocketknife, too.  Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Penknife - Fitting easily in a pocket this tiny blade can handle delicate work. This knife was originally designed to sharpen a quill pen, giving its name.  A penknife is one of many styles of slipjoint knives.  Other styles have distinctive names like Barlow, Congress, and Stockman. Each having a specific number and style of blades and tools.  A slip joint allows the blade to hold open for light use, only closing with moderate pressure but containing no locking mechanism.

Multi-tool - Most styles and uses of multi-tool knives are known by their brands and/or manufacturers.  The Victorinox Swiss Army or Leatherman Super Tool are two popular brands and styles you may instantly recognize.  But there are many brands and options available.

Specialty knives -These may contain special applications for a certain hobby (like a whittler) or job (like an electrician).

Concerns - In today's security conscious environment, I'm sure that some of you are surprised that I've even suggested a pocketknife as a gift.  I say, Use common sense.  Don't give a knife to someone who shouldn't have a knife.  Don't give a knife to a child without their parent's prior approval.  Don't take a knife where security is a concern.  (For example, don't take a knife to a courthouse, any other government building, a concert, a ballgame, an airport, or a school.)  Research and know the local rules.  Sometimes blades over three inches or locking blades are restricted, but smaller blades are allowed as a tool.

Related Posts
Everyday Providence's Twelve Days of Christmas
Day 1 - Flashlights and Batteries
Day 2 - Water
Day 3 - Pocketknife
Day 4 - Smoke Detectors 
Day 5 - Generator
Day 6 - Backpack

Christmas Gifts: Water

Seriously?  I absolutely believe you can "dress water up" to become the perfect Christmas gift.  Our drinking water supply can be interrupted so easily that we must take precautions the assure our family stays healthy.  And while storing up water supplies is easy, giving it as a gift takes a little more thought.  I've included a few suggestions here, but let me know if you have other creative ideas.
  • Straight-forward approach - Give a case of 24 bottles of water (1/2 liter, 16 oz., or 20 oz.) with a bow around it.  This meets the minimum water rule of "a gallon per person per day for 72 hours."  You could also give a five gallon bottle (like the one at the office water cooler) and maybe a base to set it on.
  • Lighter-to-carry option - Give a gift card to their favorite store with instructions to buy the items you specify (which will certainly include bottled water with other emergency supplies.)

Christmas Gifts: Flashlight and Batteries

The beauty of flashlights is that someone is always asking for one.  It's an easy gift, and with so many ultra-modern tweaks on the old-fashioned flashlight, you are sure to be able to suit everyone on your list.
  • Children love flashlights!  And many companies are making child safe versions (unbreakable, locked battery compartments).
  • For the office gift exchange, buy a flashlight someone could leave in their desk or use on the job.

Everyday Providence's Twelve Days of Christmas

We believe that preparation for disasters, emergencies, and other rough spots in life is an everyday affair. Small purchases, daily choices, and a tiny bit of planning can help you to be ready when the inevitable strikes. And as gift giving is a traditional element in celebrating the Christmas season, the next twelve posts during the month of December each emphasize an item that you might purchase for someone special on your list, and maybe put on your wish list as well.

Everyday Providence's Twelve Days of Christmas
Day 1 - Flashlights and Batteries
Day 2 - Water
Day 3 - Pocketknife
Day 4 - Smoke Detectors 
Day 5 - Generator
Day 6 - Backpack